Residency FAQ

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DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is current as of 03/05/2018.  The University of Washington reserves the right to update or remove this page as necessary for clarity and/or to reflect changes to residency law or university policies.  This website is intended as guidance only and students are advised to refer to the Washington state laws on residency for current statutes and additional information.  See RCW Chapter 28B.15WAC Chapter 250-18, and WAC Chapter 478-160.

The UW Tacoma Registrar's Office will administer residency determinations in accordance with the current law at the time of application.

Frequently Asked Questions - WA State Residency

Dates & Deadlines

How early can I submit a residency application?

For Winter, Spring, and Summer quarters, the UW Tacoma Registrar's Office will accept residency questionnaires and documentation no earlier than 30 calendar days before the start of the quarter. For Autumn quarter, the office will accept residency questionnaires and documentation no earlier than 60 calendar days before the start of the quarter.

When is the deadline to submit residency applications and documentation?


The deadline for the initial application to be received in the UW Tacoma Registrar's Office is the 30th day after the quarter begins. If you miss this deadline, you will need to apply for the next quarter you will be registered.


What should I do if my residence classification is not determined by the tuition deadline?

If your request to change residency classification is not approved by the time tuition is due, you are responsible for paying non-resident tuition and fees. Note that failure to pay the tuition by the due date will result in late payment fees. If residency is granted, the university will reimburse the tuition differential. To inquire about the reimbursement process, please contact Student Fiscal Services directly at or 206-543-4694.

If required documentation is missing, or if additional documentation is required due to unclear or ambiguous information, it will further delay our ability to make a residency determination. Therefore, you should be prepared to pay the non-resident tuition rate by the tuition deadline for your quarter of application.

Becoming a Washington State Resident

What ties to Washington State do I need to have, and how long do they need to be in place?

In order to be considered a resident for tuition purposes, you (or your parent/legal guardian, if you are financially dependent) must have established domicile in Washington for at least one year prior to the first day of the quarter in which you are requesting residency. Establishing domicile includes affirmatively creating legal ties and relationships in the state of Washington — for example, driver’s license (or state ID), vehicle registration, voter registration, bank account, and lease or home purchase agreement.

  • If I do not own or use a vehicle, do I need a vehicle registration? If you do not own or use a vehicle in Washington, you are not required to provide this documentation.
  • If I never registered to vote in my former state, do I need to register in Washington? You do not need to register to vote if you never registered in any other state.
  • I registered to vote but never received my voter registration card. What do I provide? You can visit and print the web registration.

Can I take classes while I am establishing residency?

Financially independent students who are attending a Washington State institution of higher education for 7 or more credits per quarter are presumed to be in the state for educational purposes, and cannot use that time toward the establishment of residency unless they can conclusively overcome that presumption.

It is possible to overcome this presumption through documentation of significant employment (at least 30 hours/week) at a non-student position during the time of enrollment. It may also be possible to do so through documenting a combination of non-student employment, business or professional licenses in the state, community involvement (i.e., volunteering, etc.), participation in state/local organizations, family ties in the state, etc. However this is difficult to do.  If you are a financially independent student, we recommend that you either:

  • Not attend school while taking the steps to establish your residency; or
  • Attend school part-time (6 credits or fewer per quarter) while taking the steps to establish your residency.

Does living at a campus affiliated housing such as dorms affect my residency?

Living in UW affiliated housing will not affect your residency, as long as your place of residence is in Washington

Does having a lease/home agreement, etc., make me a resident?

Having a lease/home agreement or property in the state of Washington does not automatically classify you as a resident for tuition purposes. You are still responsible for proving you have established all other residency requirements.

Is having a lease/home agreement such as ledgers or mortgage payments enough to prove physical presence? Or utility bills?

No, lease/home agreements or utility bills alone do not prove physical presence. One can have property and make monthly payments, or pay utility bills for a property, but not be physically present in Washington. Please see the UW Tacoma Residency Questionnaire documentation checklist for some examples of documentation that demonstrates physical presence in the state.

Will you tell me how to become a resident?

The role of our office is to determine whether a student has met the state requirements to be classified as a resident for tuition purposes. We can provide clarifying information about those requirements, answer general questions regarding the Residence Questionnaire itself, and provide suggestions about how a particular circumstance may affect your ability to meet the requirements for residency. However, you and your family (if applicable) are expected to read and independently follow the state regulations for residency as linked to on our webpage.

Can I tell you my circumstances and have you tell me if I or my child will qualify for residency?

Because residency is complex and depends upon the ability of a student to document their situation, we will not make a residency determination without reviewing a fully-completed residency questionnaire and documentation. We can provide suggestions about how a particular circumstance may affect your ability to meet the requirements for residency, but these should not be taken as a guarantee for or against being classified as a resident.

Will you review my application or documentation with me before I submit it?

We do not review residency applications or documentation with students before submission. If there are general questions regarding the Residence Questionnaire, we can help clarify.

Does UW participate in any "reciprocity agreements?"

Some programs or departments at the UW may participate directly in reciprocity agreements, as allowed by law. These programs do not typically qualify a student as a resident for tuition purposes, but rather function as tuition waivers of a portion of nonresident tuition. We list some of these on our Reciprocity Exchange Program page, but recommend you contact your department for questions about any these and any other reciprocity agreements. The University of Washington Residence Classification Office does not participate in the administration of or determination of eligibility for any reciprocity agreements.

Financial Resources

What classifies me as a "dependent" or "Independent" student?

  • Dependent students are financially dependent upon someone else, and/or claimed on their parents’/legal guardians’ latest tax returns. If you are determined to be a financially dependent student, residency will be determined based on your parent’s/legal guardian’s domicile information and supporting documentation, not yours. Note: a married student applying for residency should apply as a financially independent student.
  • Independent students are not financially dependent upon someone else, or claimed on their parent’s/legal guardians’ latest tax returns. If you are determined to be a financially independent student, residency will be based upon your domicile information and supporting documentation. If you are applying as financially independent, you must also document your financial independence, including:
    • That you were not and will not be claimed on your parents’/legal guardians’ tax returns for the previous or current calendar year. Calendar year is defined as January 1 through December 31.
    • That you did not and will not receive significant financial assistance either directly or indirectly from your parents, relatives, legal guardians, or others (excluding your spouse) for the current and previous calendar year. For the UW, you will need to document that you have not received financial assistance in excess of 49% of your living expenses. Financial assistance includes, but is not limited to, personal loans, parent PLUS loans, and gifts. Financial assistance does not include financial aid grants, scholarships, and loans authorized by the financial aid office in your name.
    • That you are independently covering your living expenses with your own financial resources. For the UW, you will need to document that you are covering at least 51% of your living expenses.

How are "living expenses " defined for residency purposes?

For residency determination purposes, the UW defines “living expenses” as tuition and mandatory fees (if applicable) and housing costs.

  • In terms of tuition and fees, the actual full-time tuition and fees relevant to a student’s program will be used. The resident tuition rate is used when reviewing the quarter for which you have applied for residency and forward, but if you were enrolled during the previous or current calendar year, your non-resident tuition rate will be used for the relevant period.
  • For housing expenses, the UW Tacoma Registar's Office will use the Room/Board amount listed in the published cost of attendance, unless you provide documentation of your housing expenses for the current and previous calendar year. Acceptable documentation includes all applicable leases or housing agreements, or documentation of rent payments, for the period under review.

Do trust funds count as my own financial resources?

Trust funds such as college funds (GET, 529 plan, etc.) can count toward financial independence if the fund accounts were established before you enter high school, if you have independent access to the funds, and if the funds are disbursed either directly to the institution or to you. You will need to provide documentation indicating date of establishment and transaction activities showing funds used toward paying for your tuition and living expenses.

If I am currently receiving financial aid, what happens with my aid if I am approved for residency?

Once residency is approved, the change in status from non-resident to resident is immediately updated on your record. It is suggested that you contact the Financial Aid Office in Tacoma for questions regarding the implications of the changed status, any financial aid adjustments, eligibility, and/or awarding, at or 253-692-4788.

Citizenship, Visas and Residency

Can dependents of H, E, and L visa holders qualify for residency?

Yes. Spouse/dependent(s) of H, E, and L visa holders are eligible to apply for residency as long as they are able to prove that they fulfilled the residency requirements. See Qualifying Visas for more details according to the dependent’s situation.

Can I obtain residency if I am not a U.S. Citizen, Permanent Resident, DACA, or qualifying visa holder? If so, how?

You might be able to be classified as a resident through the Washington Higher Education Residency Affidavit (also known as the HB 1079 Affidavit). To qualify, you must have obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent from a Washington school, lived in Washington for at least 3 calendar years (36 consecutive months) prior to obtaining the diploma or equivalent, and continuously lived in Washington after receiving the diploma or its equivalent until admitted into an institution of higher education. See Affidavit of Residency for more details.

I have DACA status. Can I apply for residency?

DACA is a qualifying classification status for residency. See Residency Requirements and Eligible Non-Citizens for complete details.

  • How can I prove my DACA status? You will need to provide the I-797 notice from USCIS verifying the approval of DACA status (I-821D). An Employment Authorization Card (EAC) or I-797 notice of approval for the EAC (I-765) will not suffice. See example of the I-797 notice of approval of DACA (I-821D).

Maintaining Residency

Does a Washington resident maintain their resident status if they attend school outside of the state?

Students are able to maintain their resident status as long as they prove that the absence was due to educational purposes. This means proving that they:

  1. Were continuously enrolled at the college/university for the duration they were absent from Washington; and
  2. Paid non-resident tuition at the out-of-state college/university (if it was not a private school/university; and
  3. Did not surrender any of their Washington legal ties by establishing legal ties in another state. See Residency Requirements for the list of some legal ties.